Today was an interesting first look at Chelsea this season, with the Blues winning 2-1 against Mexican club Club América with goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount in the second half. Although no changes were made in tactical shape with manager Thomas Tuchel sticking to the proven 3-4-3 that “carried” us to a Champions League title, today was more about getting back to fitness and seeing the effort made by a few players to stand out from the crowd
- For whatever reason América is risking it for the biscuit. At least the referee is setting the tune early with a few yellow cards to keep players in check before this takes an unexpectedly ugly turn!
- Kenedy at right wing-back could be a good experiment. Today was not a great first look, however.
- Three at the back still in place, with Malang Sarr having to get a lot of work to be done with Jürgen Damm on his (left) side.
- Some good stuff from Hakim Ziyech with intelligent passes to set up fellow attackers. Meanwhile Callum Hudson-Odoi was nearly invisible.
- Kai Havertz has the props of a proper centre-forward. Just needs better aim at goal to make it happen.
- Conor Gallagher was head and shoulders above the players on the pitch today. Despite a couple of mistakes on the ball and getting a yellow card for a harsh foul in midfield, the kid was a standout in defence and attack.
- The entire team is changed! That should be fun.
- América did not do much in the first half and they should not do much in the second one either.
- Christian Pulisic does have a penchant for annoying Mexican teams, doesn’t he?
- Michy Batshuayi is doing no favours to stake a claim in this Chelsea team with this kind of centre-forward play. Just unfortunate.
- Timo Werner does little, but still gets a goal. We will take it!
- And Mason Mount is just a gem. Running out of words to describe how good he is at the game despite being so young.
New Chelsea signings Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly are officially with the club in Las Vegas, but neither logged enough training sessions to feature against Club America. The Blues next travel to Charlotte and Orlando to face MLS club Charlotte FC (July 20) and London rivals Arsenal (July 23) to wrap up the U.S. tour. Chelsea start their Premier League season on Aug. 6 at Everton.
Club America take on Manchester City on Wednesday (July 20) before returning to Liga MX action on July 23 at Tijuana for Matchday 4 of the Apertura season.
Mason Mount is a difference-maker
Much has been made of the new-and-improved Mason Mount, who has reportedly focused on bulking up and getting stronger during the offseason. During this first outing of the season he definitely stood out among his teammates for his explosiveness and energy as part of the second-half unit. Operating in central midfield, he was constantly ready and willing to join the attack, and the goal capped a quality performance that saw him step up to make the difference for his team once again.
Chelsea returning loanees among standouts
Three players who spent the 2021/22 season out on loan are looking to be better for it after the first match of the preseason. Ethan Ampadu, who last featured for Venezia in Italy’s Serie A, was comfortable in the center of the three-man backline when he replaced Thiago Silva in the second half. Another second-half sub, Michy Batshuayi who spent time with Besiktas in Turkey, was lively at center forward and an evident upgrade over Kai Havertz’s first-half performance.
Then there was Conor Gallagher, who was a star for Crystal Palace last campaign. He was a force in midfield against Club America by winning balls, launching attacks, and generally showcasing quality first touches, footwork, and passing when on the ball. Central midfield is currently a crowded sector for Chelsea with up to eight players battling for two available starting spots. But it’s hard to believe that a player of Gallagher’s caliber wouldn’t be valuable to Thomas Tuchel.
“He trains on a very high level and we can clearly see that it was the right decision to let him go on loan,” Thomas Tuchel said postgame about Gallagher’s performance. “He made a huge step in his development in this year and became a player for England, and we can see this clearly in training. It is a very good start from him and it was a good match from him. Now it is important that he gets used to our principles of the game, to understand when to move when not to move, but his work-rate is outstanding and this can be a big asset for us.”
Club America attacking struggles continue
The Mexican side went toe-to-toe against one of the elite squads in the world and they did it with hard work and personality on and off the ball. There’s no shame in getting beat by a late wonder strike through traffic. But there was a gap in quality that was evident in the attack — America were outshot 19-7 and none of their seven shots were on goal — and that’s where Las Aguilas still haven’t discovered a goal-scoring formula that works.
Between Diego Valdes, new signing “Cabecita” Rodriguez, playmaker Alvaro Fidalgo, and Jurgen Damm, they have players who can contribute in a big way to the attacking buildup. But they need a goal scorer. The expectation is that Cabecita takes on the role because veteran Henry Martin is not that guy today, and teenager Roman Martinez could become that player, but he doesn’t fit the role at present.
Chelsea vs. Club America final score
CHE — Timo Werner — 55th min.
AME — own goal (Reece James) — 60th min.
CHE — Mason Mount — 83rd min.
Chelsea vs. Club America live updates, highlights from preseason friendly
Final: Chelsea 2, Club America 1
83rd min.: Goal Chelsea! What a shot by Mason Mount to beat the Club America goalkeeper. He received the ball near the top of the box, avoided a challenge, and then he let it fly.
77th min.: Michy Batshuayi is one-on-one against the ‘keeper, but the play is scratched because of an offside. The pass from Christian Pulisic to Batshuayi came in a hair too late. Meanwhile, the official attendance in Vegas:
72nd min.: Clear opportunity for Christian Pulisic! Emerson Palmieri with the gorgeous cross into the box and Pulisic was all alone in the box, but his header is over the bar.
62nd min.: Club America have switched up a few spots on the field, including all four attacking positions, where Alejandro Zendejas, Roman Martinez, Diego Valdes, and Cabecita Rodriguez have come into the match.
60th min.: Club America equalize! But it’s Chelsea who did all the work. Reece James with the backpass toward his own ‘keeper, Marcus Bettinelli, but it beats him into the back of the net. We’re even at 1-1.
55th min.: Goal Chelsea! It’s a well-worked goal with Jorginho sending Reece James into the right side of the box. His low cross finds Werner whose first shot was saved by the goalkeeper. But the German followed it up. Chelsea have played with purpose to open the half.
Timo giving us the lead! 🤝
Entering the closing stages.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 17, 2022
46th min.: It’s a whole new Chelsea XI for the second half:
Chelsea 0, Club America 0
Halftime: The result is a fair reflection of a first half with two teams that have been evenly matched. Chelsea’s world-class quality in attack means that they created the best of the chances thanks to two set-piece deliveries by Hakim Ziyech (one headed by Thiago Silva on goal), and a curling attempt from Kenedy which was stopped by the ‘keeper.
Ben Chilwell has been rusty in his return, but Conor Gallagher has been a bright spot as a midfield engine for the Blues. Kai Havertz isn’t cutting it at center forward: He was inconsistent at the position last season, and at least in this first friendly it’s more of the same from the German international.
41st min.: Sensational stop by Oscar Jimenez in goal for America! He makes the acrobatic dive to stop Thiago Silva’s header on a delicious set piece delivery from Hakim Ziyech.
36th min.: Yellow card for Conor Gallagher who clips Miguel Layun who was making an attacking run. That was late and from behind by Gallagher.
33rd min.: America SUB — Rare non-injury goalkeeper sub with Oscar Jimenez coming on for Memo Ochoa, who gets a standing ovation.
29th min.: Conor Gallagher intercepts a ball in midfield and sends an exquisite pass to Kai Havertz who tries to find the top left corner, but the shot is off the mark when a right-footed shot would’ve been the better decision. Gallagher has been the best Chelsea player so far.
26th min.: Another yellow card for Club America shown to center mid Pedro Aquino for stopping Kai Havertz and a promising Chelsea attack which started with a Thiago Silva defensive header clearance from his own box.
24th min.: What a shot from Kenedy! He gets the ball down the right attacking channel, dances around the America defender, and hits a left-footed curling blast that just misses the far post. Goalkeeper Memo Ochoa had a beat on it.
20th min.: Club America wingers Jurgen Damm and Miguel Layun have switched sides, and Damm earns a corner down the right flank. Chelsea ‘keeper Kepa needs to punch away the ensuing set piece.
18th min.: Both teams are knocking the ball around, but neither side is able to generate much danger to start this match. The fact is that Club America is playing toe-to-toe against the 2021 Champions League winners.
9th min.: Hakim Ziyech takes a set piece and tests America goalkeeper Memo Ochoa who made the diving save on Ziyech’s low curler.
4th min.: Already a yellow card. Jurgen Damm gets called for nicking Chelsea right wingback Kenedy on a slide tackle.
1st min.: The match is underway. Chelsea gets things started.
5 mins before kickoff: Teams are out on the field. Kickoff nears.
30 mins before kickoff: It’s a great atmosphere at Allegiant Stadium … and we’re still in warmups.
Chelsea vs. Club America lineups
Although Raheem Sterling has been training for several days with the Blues, manager Thomas Tuchel indicated that he wasn’t likely to play. It’s also too early for new signing Kalidou Koulibaly, who met with the team for the first time Friday.
Armando Broja sat out with an ankle/Achilles issue, which Tuchel said is not a serious injury. Levi Colwill (groin) missed out, and Mateo Kovacic was training separately from the group. N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek did not travel due to their vaccination status.
Chelsea 1st half (3-4-3, right to left): 1-Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) — 14-Trevoh Chalobah, 6-Thiago Silva, 31-Malang Sarr — 23-Kenedy, 18-Ross Barkley, 38-Conor Gallagher, 21-Ben Chilwell — 22-Hakim Ziyech, 29-Kai Havertz, 20-Callum Hudson-Odoi
Chelsea 2nd half (3-4-3, right to left): 13-Marcus Bettinelli (GK) — 28-Cesar Azpilicueta, 44-Ethan Ampadu, 33-Emerson Palmieri, — 24-Reece James, 19-Mason Mount, 5-Jorginho, 3-Marcos Alonso — 10-Christian Pulisic, 30-Michy Batshuayi, 11-Timo Werner
Unused players: Edouard Mendy (GK), Teddy Sharman-Lowe (GK), Billy Gilmour, Harvey Vale, Tino Anjorin
Injured / unavailable: Levi Colwill, Kalidou Koulibaly, Mateo Kovacic, Armando Broja, Raheem Sterling, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Club America head coach Fernando “Tano” Ortiz made it clear in the lead-up that there would be squad turnover for the Chelsea match given that the club played a Mexican league match in midweek. Henry Martin was given the start at center forward with young attacking sensation Roman Martinez coming on in the second half.
Uruguayan attacker Federico Vinas was out with the same muscle injury that kept him out of the midweek tussle against Toluca. According to reports, Roger Martinez (injury), Salvador Reyes (injury), and Jorge Mere (coach’s decision) did not travel.
Club America starting lineup (4-2-3-1, right to left): 13-Guillermo Ochoa (27-Oscar Jimenez, 33′) — 3-Jorge Sanchez, 18-Bruno Valdez, 4-Sebastian Caceres, 206-Mauricio Reyes — 6-Jonathan Dos Santos, 5-Pedro Aquino — 19-Miguel Layun, 8-Alvaro Fidalgo, 25-Jurgen Damm — 21-Henry Martin
Club America 61st minute (4-2-3-1, right to left): 27-Oscar Jimenez (GK) — 3-Jorge Sanchez, 18-Bruno Valdez, 4-Sebastian Caceres, 206-Mauricio Reyes — 201-Sebastian Martinez, 20-Richard Sanchez — 11-Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodriguez, 10-Diego Valdes, 17-Alejandro Zendejas — 200-Roman Martinez
Unused subs: 14-Nestor Araujo, 2-Luis Fuentes, 23-Emilio Lara, 187-Karel Campos, 202-Iker Moreno
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